I got my first WordPress blog installed last night. That means I have a site up and running - nothing more. I don't want to start a brand new blog. I want to replace my static tokerud.com website with a WordPress blog.
In order to find out about WordPress and it's strengths and weaknesses, I needed to try something. I could have started a blog on *something* but I don't want to start something I'm not going to keep using. Starting a new blog is the easiest thing. Converting a blog like this to WordPress is probably the hardest thing to do without heartache and trouble. I chose the middle way. Start building a replacement for tokerud.com with a WordPress blog at it's center.
My new blog is currently entitled Tokerud Blog. The tokerud.com site, which is still running, by the way, was called Tokerud Domain. Not original, but then the site is the web end of my Tokerud Consulting Group company and Tokerud Consulting Group Blog was a mouthful.
I plan to develop my Tokerud Blog and fill in all the content from the tokerud.com site that I deem worth moving before I transfer the domain. OK. You can look at it in its very incomplete state here if you like. Remember, I have about 3 hours into it at this point. I have not found the theme of my dreams as a starting point yet. That is going to require more research.
I chose to host my own blog. Instead of choosing WordPress.com to host a WordPress blog, I chose to get maximum flexibility by using WordPress.org and installing it on a web host. I don't want to manage my own server right now. I'm not the IT type. So, I went shopping for a web host service as of the end of Part 1.
Which Web Host Did I Choose? As I mentioned in my last post, the WordPress site gives you a list of recommended web hosts. I researched those recommended hosts. I searched twitter on each of the hosts. I checked out their home pages, their promises, their pricing etc.
Why I Chose DreamHost. They had an offer for $5.95 a month. That sounded good. It winds up being $10.95 a month if you pay monthly as opposed to in advance. The only way you get $5.95/mo is by paying for 10 years. That is stupid if you ask me. So, false advertising is my call on that one. However, more people were on DreamHost than anyone and quite a few liked them. Some hated them. I finally went with them based on a beginner WordPress tutorial that said DreamHost was one of the easiest web hosts for a beginner. Easy attracts me.
Telling you everything I learned about each of these hosts would be a long story. And, it was taking too long to get all the information I needed, so I just kind of picked one. I almost went with MediaTemple but decided that might be more for experienced IT types than me. I actually love all that IT stuff once I am past the beginner stages but hate it while I'm getting stuck and frustrated in the early going.
Because DreamHost seemed to be the most popular among Twitter users, I checked into them first and more thoroughly. I corresponded with the sales people and got decent and understandable answers. I could see a way to make my plan work. The hardest obstacle is still to transfer my domain and email from Forest.net to DreamHost.
By the way, although I didn't research it as much, I had mediatemple.net as the #2 candidate by the end of the process. Since I'm on a month-to-month contract with DreamHost and haven't moved my domain yet, I may end up there. We'll see how the next few steps go.
When I got tired of researching last night and just decided to go with Dream Host, here's what happened:
- I was surprised that it cost me $70 to start. They charge $50 as a start-up fee and I don't remember anything about that in my reading. Maybe it was in the fine print.
- Creating the web host account was straight forward. You do have to wait after filling in the credit card details and placing the order while the card is approved, and your FTP site is set up. That only took 10 minutes.
- Next step was to use their 1-click WordPress 2.7 installer process. That seemed to go OK in 5-10 minutes, but it was supposed to be followed by an email to me that the WordPress account was ready to go. Didn't happen.
- I waited and watched. Finally over 2 hours later, I found the support request link and formally submitted an inquiry about the missing notification. It never happened but instead a notification had been placed in my Dream Host support log. I just didn't know where to look and had been told to expect an email. Support got back to me within 15 minutes with a URL and instructions for how to proceed.
- Then I ran the famous 5-minute WordPress install and that took 5 seconds. Good to go. It creates a 1st post and comment for you to work with as you learn the ropes. You can simply change the post and delete the comment.
WordPress Themes. I'm not all the way there yet. I did easily find a way to pick a theme. It's not the theme I want, but it will do for the moment - it's the lesser evil compared to the generic blue WordPress theme.
Email. I haven't figured out what is going on with my email. That doesn't seem to work yet. But it doesn't matter much because my *old* email still works since I haven't moved my domain yet. I'll need to research that.
I chose the option to use Gmail for all my email. Another one of those really big decisions I wasn't the least bit prepared for. I don't really know how this works or what it means. I just clicked the checkbox for Gmail and am hoping for the best. Right now it doesn't work. So I need to research this. Will try sending support another email on this today and reading some of the documentation about it if I can find it. It looks like this gets me into Google Apps as an integral part of my DreamHost account.
Bottom line: I survived. I have a WordPress blog to play with and I am optimistic that I'll be able to create a good-looking WordPress Blog-driven tokerud.com site. Will let you know how it goes. [Next installment: Part 3]